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2018 World Cup team preview: Poland

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Getting to know Poland: Going into this tournament Poland are eighth in the FIFA rankings and many fancy them as darkhorses to go deep in Russia following their impressive displays at EURO 2016.

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Led by Robert Lewandowski’s goals (more on him further down), Poland lost to eventual EURO 2016 winners Portugal on penalty kicks in the quarterfinals and have a hardworking team built around their star striker. Playing in their first World Cup since 2006, Poland are ready to make the most of their opportunity and you can expect plenty of Polish fans to head across their eastern border towards Russia to cheer on their team. To learn more about Poland’s history, click here.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 


What group are they in? Group H, as they were top seeds and placed in a ridiculously even group where all four teams could easily win the group. Japan are perhaps the underdogs but Colombia and Senegal will fancy their chances of finishing above Poland to reach the last 16.

Game schedule – Group H – Full 2018 World Cup schedule, here

Tuesday, June 19: Poland v Senegal, Moscow (Spartak) 11am, ET
Sunday, June 24: Poland v Colombia, Kazan 2pm, ET
Thursday, June 28: Japan v Poland, Volgograd 10am, ET


Projected lineup (4-2-3-1) – Check out the 23-man squad list in full

–— Szczesny —–

— Piszczek —— Pazdan — Rybus —- Jedrzejczyk — 

—- Krychowiak — Linetty —-

— Blaszczykowski — Zielinski — Grosicki —

–— Lewandowski —–


Star player: Robert Lewandowski – Bit of an easy one, this. The Bayern Munich star is Poland’s all-time leading goalscorer (53 goals in 94 games) and led European World Cup qualifying with 16 goals as Poland won their group. Lewandowski, 29, is the talisman for Poland and gets plenty of chances from crosses and long balls down the channels which suit his game. The entire team is built to get the best out of the No.9 and with his agent suggesting he will be on the move from Bayern this summer, expect a fired up Lewandowski to take his game to a whole new level.


Manager: Adam Nawalka – A man with a vision who has delivered a steady, solid Polish outfit in recent years. Nawalka is a former Polish international who played at the 1978 World Cup where Poland finished fifth. Yes, his job has been helped due to having Lewandowski in his prime, but Nawalka’s tactics have allowed Poland to move up the ladder in European qualifying rather quickly and they could really have reached the final at EURO 2016 if they had beaten Portugal in the quarters. Nawalka has been in charge since 2013 and after five years at the helm he will see this summer as the pinnacle of his work with Poland so far.


Secret weapon: Arkadiusz Milik – The Napoli forward was ruled out for the first half of the season after another serious knee injury but his form was decent after his return as he scored six goals in 17 appearances in all competitions for the Serie A side. Milik and Lewandowski may not play together all of the time but if Poland need a goal, having the powerful duo up top together will certainly ruffle a few feathers this summer.


Prediction: Poland are very capable of reaching at least the quarterfinals with the draw they have been handed but that would mean getting past either Belgium or England in the last 16. If Lewandowski is firing on all cylinders, they could shock everyone and reach the semifinals. That said, reaching the last eight for a second-straight major tournament would be deemed a huge success.

Report: Borussia Dortmund enters race to sign Hudson-Odoi

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In what could look like a nightmare to Premier League sides, Borussia Dortmund could potentially play next season with two of England’s top young wingers.

[READ: Pogba “happy” at Man United]

After multiple failed attempts to sign Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi on a transfer last summer and in the January transfer window, Bayern Munich now has competition for Hudson-Odoi from Dortmund, according to a report in the Telegraph. With Christian Pulisic heading the opposite direction to Chelsea this summer, Hudson-Odoi could look at Dortmund and feel that his chances for first team minutes are better than at Stamford Bridge.

The 18-year-old, who has been called-up to the current England squad, is yet to start a Premier League match this season. Of course, Hudson-Odoi is behind the likes of Eden Hazard and Willian, who would start ahead of most players. But surely Hudson-Odoi will see how his England teammate Jadon Sancho has made 35 appearances, including starts in the Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League.

Sancho has also been subject to huge transfer speculation, especially from Manchester United, which could look to make a big splash this summer under new (or current) management. If he leaves on a $100 million-plus deal, Hudson-Odoi could be Sancho’s replacement as well.

Ultimately, should Hudson-Odoi leave the Premier League, it’s a lost opportunity for both Chelsea and the league to not only develop young players but provide them with playing time, assuming they’re deserving of it from practice.

Watch: A-League referee mic’d up during match

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Soccer around the globe is pretty transparent. We can see with our own eyes goals, fouls and red cards, as well as frame-by-frame slo-mo replays again and again. But the one aspect most people never get to see is about the referee. We never hear what the referee is saying to players, what’s in their mind as they’re consulting with the video assistant referee, or why they decided to make a certain decision. Until now.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

In his final A-League match before moving to England to be in the League Championship pool of referees, Jarred Gillett agreed to be mic’d up by local broadcasters so that fans could hear the game through his senses. The result is an incredible display of communication, knowledge, confidence and refereeing expertise that gives the viewers a new-found respect for referees.

It may not be great in every circumstance, but getting to hear what referees are saying to players or coaches could certainly help endear them to fans and the media, instead of the standard bashing treatment most referees are afforded.

Watch the video below.

Beasley to miss 4-6 weeks with knee injury

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One of Major League Soccer’s elder statesman could have used this injury as a sign it’s time to hang up the boots. Instead, it will just be a brief spell on the sidelines.

DaMarcus Beasley posted a post-operation photo after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery, according to the Houston Dynamo. Beasley said “I’ll be back in a flash” in his Instagram post after the surgery. The Dynamo did not specify when Beasley suffered this injury, but the 36-year-old has not played for the club in its first three league matches this season.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

If Beasley returns within the next four to six weeks, it would put his return around the middle to end of April. The Dynamo have a pair of home games at the end of April into May, against the Columbus Crew and FC Dallas, which may be a good time to bring Beasley back.

Sane, Low play down injury fears after horror tackle for Germany

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Leroy Sane suffered a tackle so graphic on video that in most cases would have ended up with a broken leg. Thankfully, Sane says he’s just fine.

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Late in Germany’s 1-1 friendly draw with Serbia on Wednesday evening, Serbia’s Milan Pavkov went over the ball and hit Sane’s leg directly with the studs of his cleats. Pavkov was shown a straight red card and Sane limped off the pitch. However, after the match, Sane assured fans that he’s doing all right.

“The foul looked worse than it was, everything is fine with my ankle,” Sane said after the match. “I’m very happy, we had a few good moves. We had good phases where the final pass was lacking, but I think that will come with time. Everyone could see that we got better and better.”

With the start of Euro 2020 qualifiers ahead and the announcement last month that Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, and Thomas Muller would no longer be with the national team, Joachim Low has started pushing a youth movement in the German National Team. Timo Werner started up top with Sane, 19-year-old Kai Havertz, and 22-year-old Julian Brandt in the three attacking midfield positions.

“It was a vicious foul,” Low said after the match, via Sky Sports. “Sane was lucky and got away with not getting hurt but such fouls can break bones.”

The news about Sane is a huge boost to Manchester City, which is still in the run for the quadruple in England and Europe. Sane will certainly play a big role with Pep Guardiola‘s side down the stretch.